Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Materials Science

Explore how the use of natural and manmade materials further technology. Read articles on subjects such as nanotechnology, iron steel and reverse osmosis.

Featured
What is glass ionomer cement?

Glass ionomer cement is a kind of cement used in restorative dentistry. Learn what glass ionomer cement is in this article.


How Kinesio Tape Works

Sports injury taping has undergone a quiet revolution over the last 30 years. How can a pattern of tape stuck to your body help you heal from (or prevent) an injury? See more »

How Dyneema Works

Dyneema is trademarked as the world's strongest fiber. Find out how this high-strength synthetic is capable of protecting an individual (or an entire vehicle) from IEDs or even shots fired from an AK47. See more »

How Ultrasonic Welding Works

You probably know that high pitched or high frequency sounds can break materials apart. But did you know that high frequency sounds can be used to bond materials together? See more »

Are food-based plastics a good idea?

Once upon a time, food was used for one thing: eating. Today, it has a much more complicated role. And one of those roles might be serving as an upstart in the world of plastics. See more »

How Electroluminescent (EL) Wire Works

Versatile and efficient, electroluminescent (EL) wire is widely used by artists to illuminate clothing, bicycle spokes, turntables and even cars. But how does this cool product work with so little power and without a visible energy source? See more »

How Aerogels Work

This not-so-new material looks like a hologram and could play a valuable role in the future of insulation, electronics, oil spill cleanup and green energy. So why don't aerogels have the A-list name recognition they deserve? See more »

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is one of the hot buzzwords of the 21st century. You know that it has to do with things that are very small, but just what are the implications of technology on the molecular scale, anyway? See more »

Are there natural nanotechnologies?

When most people talk about nanotechnology, they're referring to tiny machines built by humans. Could any molecules found in nature qualify as natural nanotechnology? See more »

What is the gray goo nightmare?

If people could create nanomachines, they might be able to help fight diseases on the molecular level. They might even be able to replicate themselves. But what happens if that process gets out of hand? See more »

Can nanoscopic machines manipulate atoms?

Engineers have gotten good at making very small things. We're already talking about building at the nanoscopic scale. Is it possible to build tiny machines that can move even tinier atoms? See more »